The Chinese city of Wuhan is thought to be where Covid-19 began. Now, its tourist board is presenting the destination in a new light to attract international visitors. Rose Dykins reports

Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province, hit the headlines in January, when it was believed to have contracted the first cases of Covid-19. To move forwards and reinvigorate tourism to the city, the Wuhan Culture and Tourism Bureau has created a new campaign: “Let’s Meet In Wuhan”.

The stylish campaign video showcase Wuhan’s rich cultural attractions, with ballerinas and classical musicians playing to empty theatres or surrounded by forest. Tourists stroll contentedly through peaceful ancient streets snapping photos.

One visitor canoes through the still waters of Jiuzhenshan National Forest Park, while a family camps out in the mountains, and drone shots pan over the glittering skyscrapers of the city centre reflected in the “Golden Waterway”. The video emphasises the natural beauty of the Hubei Province, known as: “The Province of 1,000 Lakes.”Yellow Crane Tower WuhanA far cry from the images of a snow-filled, desolate city enduring a 76-day lockdown that circulated in January – warning of what the rest of the world may soon experience – “Let’s Meet in Wuhan” presents an inviting prospect for an outdoorsy, enriching break.

“Wuhan is never stingy in presenting its beauty, and we, who love it, hope more people can understand,” the bureau posted to Chinese social media site, Weibo. “[We] look forward to meeting you in Wuhan.”

Cases of Covid-19 have not been recorded in Wuhan since May. According to an April 2020 study by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Tourism Research Centre and Tencent Culture and Tourism Industry Research Centre, the city’s popularity has been unaffected among domestic tourists – and it was named the number one place Chinese travellers wanted to visit nationally, knocking Beijing off the top spot.Yellow Crane Tower Wuhan

What’s next for Chinese outbound travel?

Globetrender’s free report China Next: The Future of Luxury Tourism reveals ten trends shaping the future of travel for China’s elite, with insights into how foreign countries and companies can better engage with them amid a climate of increased hostility and mistrust.

Globetrender writes: “Unfortunately, with reports of anti-Chinese sentiment rife, Globetrender believes it is going to take a co-ordinated and reassuring campaign (not to mention border openings) to win back this important market, which, as a country, is still suffering a perception problem from being the source of the Covid-19 virus.

“Pre-Covid, Chinese travel was growing rapidly. Chinese travellers made 150 million trips in 2018, spending US$277.3 billion – in 2019 that figure rose to US$361.9 billion. Although domestic travel is back to pre-pandemic levels, China still has a long way to go in terms of international tourism – both inbound and outbound

“China Next: The Future of Luxury Tourism highlights the importance of China within a complicated global landscape and gets behind the headlines with data explorations, deep dive features and case studies on companies such as WeChat. There are also interviews with both luxury travellers themselves and industry experts.”

Jenny Southan, editor and founder of Globetrender, says: “Regardless of the pandemic, the sentiments and habits of wealthy Chinese travellers have been changing, with an observed shift to more experiential and less retail-focused trips, especially among younger people.

“As the crisis unfolds, we will see a number of trends emerging and accelerating. First and foremost will be domestic travel within China, which has previously not been seen as being as desirable or prestigious as going abroad.

“To move forward and rebuild, the travel industry must find ways to entice Chinese travellers back and generate confidence. A big part of this will come down to understanding who these high-income individuals are, how they have been changed by the pandemic and what they are looking for from travel.

“It’s also important to remember that the politics of a country can and must be separated from its citizens, and that travel is ultimately a force for good.”

What’s coming next? Trend reports available to download HERE

Globetrender Aviation Trend Briefing

Travel After 2020: What Will Tourism Look Like in Our New Reality?

China Next: The Future of Luxury Tourism

Future of Business Travel